If your dreams of early retirement resemble leisurely days on the beach, catching up on your reading list, or picking up that side hobby you’ve always been meaning to start, know that it may be easier said than done — at least at first.
Justin McCurry retired five years ago, at 33, as a self-made millionaire. He and his wife spent 10 years growing their investment portfolio to $1.3 million, though she continued to bring in an income and didn’t fully retire until 2016. McCurry said they were able to build a solid nest egg because they had good jobs with benefits, employed smart tax strategies, maxed out their retirement savings accounts, invested, budgeted, and bought an affordable home during an auction. (He says their portfolio has since grown to over $1.7 million.)
But life in early retirement brought a bit of a shock to McCurry, who runs the blog Root of Good, which brings in some monthly income for the couple. He previously told Business Insider that he wished he knew it would take him at least six months to calm down, relax, and slow down after retiring.
“It took me at least that long to feel comfortable doing nothing,” said McCurry, who most recently worked as an engineering manager earning about $69,000 before retiring.
“I felt like I had to be productive for at least part of the day,” he said. “Eventually, I realized that this is the rest of my life — time to enjoy it! I upped the time I spent in my hammock, caught up on my Netflix queue, and read a bunch of books.”
His days are a mix of fun, time outdoors, and ‘a small dose of work’
To figure out how to fill up his free time (and help others do the same), McCurry created a weekly schedule for his early retirement. It’s evidence that early retirement can be just as diverse as the typical workweek, if not more so. No two days for McCurry are the same, and he’s found more time to indulge in things that make him happy.
“Fortunately we live in the 21st century, a glorious time filled with entertainment overload, instant digital connections, and unlimited choices of pastimes (indoors and outside),” he wrote on his blog. “Each day typically has a mix of a lot of fun, a moderate dose of physical activity, and a small dose of work.”
McCurry divides his days into five categories: work, meals, physical, fun, and social. On a weekly basis, he spends roughly 7 1/2 hours with family or friends, 13 hours working (whether it’s yard work or personal-finance chores), 18 hours doing some sort of physical activity, such as swimming, and 35 1/2 hours having fun, which could be planning vacations, reading, or blogging.
“Early retirement is like a full-time job where tasks consist solely of having fun and socializing,” he wrote. “Everyone has their own definition of fun and their ideal level of socializing each week. I like a lot of solitary activities but also enjoy the company of other people.”
Here’s an example of a Friday in which he was able to incorporate all five categories into his schedule:
7:30 a.m.: Work — wake up and get ready
8 a.m.: Physical — walk to school and drop off his kids
8:30 a.m.: Physical — walk to the park
9 a.m.: Work — teach ABC’s to his toddler
9:30 a.m.: Social — play date with his toddler
Noon: Meals — lunch
1 p.m.: Work — grocery shopping
2 p.m.: Work — internet chores
3 p.m.: Physical — walk to school to pick up the kids
3:30 p.m.: Physical — adventure time, which can range from visiting the park to exploring a nature reserve
6:30 p.m.: Meals — dinner
7:30 p.m.: Fun — video games and Netflix
“I realized I felt happy and fulfilled when I had a whole lot of leisure activities plus a small amount of ‘work’ and intellectual stimulation during the week,” he told Business Insider.
McCurry says he tries to spread the work out — no more than an hour or two per day. He added that sometimes he gets passionate about an idea and spends a few days absorbed in a new project, such as learning Adobe Photoshop or foreign languages.
“So far I haven’t experienced any boredom in early retirement,” he wrote on his blog. “But if I do, my first action will be to search for new activities to jump into.”